Thursday, December 16, 2004

Christmas at our House

Lot’s going on for Christmas at our house. As usual, we are doing things for “us” and for the house as opposed to things for “each other”.

First, we decided to go with an artificial tree this Christmas—just don’t like the idea (and recurring expense) of a live tree each year. So, we bought a 10’ tall, very realistic looking, pre-lit, artificial tree. It looks great, but getting it put up was a challenge. It comes in 4 sections, some weighing, probably, 50 pounds. I strained my back and it still hurts a week later. Still it is beautiful. Lynne decorated it with a lot of our traditional ornaments, the cats play with it, the dogs pee on it. Life is good.

Second, we decided to make the plunge into High Definition TV. That has involved buying an HD TV, then moving from Comcast cable to DirecTV satelite and subscribing to some HD channels. For more information on this gift from Santa, click on “more…”

The bottom line is that HD quality television is awesome—when you can get it.

If you are considering moving to HD, go to the Consumer Electronics Association web page for links to a number of credible resources. Also, check out the Antenna Web site where you can see if you can receive off-the-air HD programming, as well as download their excellent Guide to HDTV.

While prices are coming down, this technology is still expensive, so it pays to learn as much as you can about it. I found that salespeople in the major electronics retail chains did not really know as much as they should.

You need to sort out lots of new vocabulary like HDTV versus EDTV versus DTV. There is DVI, and S-video, composite video and component video, ...

And, even after you get the TV, you need to be sure you can get HD programming. (Although, even the analog signal we were getting via cable looked somewhat better.) In our area, our only real choice was satellite TV since cable here does not carry HD programming yet (“any day now”) and we cannot get any off-the-air programming either.

And, you’ll want to make sure you have a DVD player that had progressive scan technology to get the best images (DVD does not give you HD quality, but does give better quality on an HDTV than on today’s analog TVs.)

I’ve read reviews on a new book from O’Reilly that might be a great study-guide prior to making a purchase. It is called “Home Theater Hacks” and is authored by McLaughlin.

Anyway, we are enjoying the superior image quality, and the new vast selection of programming we got with the satellite. Now, we just need to figure out which remote goes to what….(TV, Satellite Box, VCR, DVD, Amplifier, ...)

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Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 12/16/2004 at 10:43 AM
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